A Brief History of the Hoodie

By Bill Byrne. Posted: March 02, 2017

Few style evolutions have been as remarkable as that of the hooded sweatshirt.  From its origins in Medieval Europe to its powerful presence in today’s fashion world, the hoodie has become both a style icon and a statement piece.  Looking back at the history of the hoodie – with its roots in sport and fashion – makes it easy to understand why this has long been an essential item for many a runner’s wardrobe.

 12th Century  - The first hooded garments

Hooded garments date back to Medieval Europe or earlier. Monks wore tunics with hoods (known as “cowls”) and outdoor workers wore capes with hoods (known as “chaperon.”).  It is believed that the short cape (or “capa”) was imported to England in the 12th Century during the Norman Conquest, as the cape was particularly common in Normandy.  

The word “hood” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “höd” which has the same root as the word “hat.”

Hooded monk1930s – The first hooded sweatshirt

Founded in 1919, the US company Champion apparently made the first hooded sweatshirt in the 1930s. The company turned to making sweatshirts once it had developed methods for sewing thicker materials.  Initially hoods were added to sweatshirts to keep workers warm during the bitter winters in Upstate New York. Shortly thereafter, Champion supplied sports kit including sweatshirts to the US military for training exercises and physical education classes.

1976 – Rocky gives the hooded sweatshirt its iconic status

It was the blockbuster sports drama film Rocky which really gave the hooded sweatshirt iconic status.  Set in Philadelphia, the film tells the rags-to-riches story of how an uneducated but kind-hearted Italian-American amateur boxer, Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone), gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The film went on to win three Oscars and is often considered to be the greatest sports drama film of all times.

Since Rocky, the grey hoodie has featured in iconic running scenes in other films including classic thriller Marathon Man as well as in TV series such as political drama House of Cards.

The hoodie inspired by Rocky

1970s – Hooded sweatshirts in fashion and at universities

Hip hop culture developed in New York City in the 1970s and American designer, Norma Kamali was among the first designers to embrace the new clothing.  Designers have put the hooded sweatshirt on the catwalk ever since.

Around the same time universities started emblazoning hooded sweatshirts with their names.

University Hoodie

1990s – Term “Hoodie” was coined

The term “hoodie” was first used during the 1990s.  Unfortunately, the term now has negative connotations after being associated with criminality and some aspects of marginalised sub-cultures.  In 2005, Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent famously banned shoppers wearing hooded sweatshirts. Ironically, those very garments remained on sale within stores there.  

In July 2006 David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, made a speech suggesting that the hoodie was worn more for defensive than offensive purposes. The Labour party famously parodied the speech with the name “hug a hoodie.”  This is one of many examples of just how the hoodie - more than any other iconic clothing style - has evoked such strong social, economic and political ideas and sentiments.

The term 'hoodie' is coined

2017 – Back to the future with our Iffley Road hooded sweatshirt

Creating a timeless piece that could fit seamlessly into our modern lifestyle, as well as becoming a trusted running companion, is at the heart of why we decided to create the Fife, a pebble grey hooded sweatshirt.  We felt the only way to honour such a beloved item was to try and elevate it as modern classic that delivers comfort - albeit in a more smart and sophisticated way.

Fife hooded sweatshirt


Crafted with high-end, European 390g polycotton (40% cotton, 60% polyamide) the Fife is durable, tough and abrasion/snag resistant on the outer. It also maintains its shape well unlike some other hoodies that can be prone to sagging.

We chose a dark grey “pebble grey” which we find more pleasing than the light grey of many sweatshirts.


All Iffley Road garments are slim-cut in style but still fit standard sizing.  So if you’re normally a Large, Iffley Road Large should fit you.


To maximize comfort and ensure a smooth finish, we’ve taped the inside of the Iffley Road hoodie using the same Italian microfibre as used in all Iffley Road shorts.  


The hardware includes rubberised metallic pull cord and our metallic Iffley Road zipper pull.

Pulling all these element together, we’ve aimed to elevate this iconic classic with a rich history to a garment which is equally pleasing for running as it is for post- pre- run. The choice of fabric, fit, detailing and hardware have been critical in creating what we like to think of as the perfect grey hoodie.

Fife hooded sweatshirt fabric

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